Thursday, October 07, 2010

The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant

The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption was a difficult book to start.  Now, notice I didn't say Jim Gorant's book was difficult to finish.  If you're like me, you'll skim through those sections in italics, and delve into the meat of the book.  The italicized parts, as the dogs observe what is happening to them on Vick's property, is heartbreaking.  But, it's easy to get through that part to the rest of the book, a rewarding, and, at times, triumphant story.

Gorant quotes Gandhi, and it's worth repeating here.  "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."  When Michael Vick spent his football earnings to buy fifteen acres in Smithfield, Virginia, and then used that property to raise dogs for dogfighting, it said a great deal about Vick and his friends.  But, the story of the people who found the evidence against Vick is a true crime story of good triumphing over opposition.  A rural Virginia deputy, Bill Brinkman, pushed for an investigation.  When nothing worked on the local level, he turned to Jim Knorr, an undercover senior special agent with the USDA's Office of the Inspector General.  And, Mike Gill from the U.S. Attorney's office, not only took over the case, but pushed to determine if those dogs could be rehabilitated.

And, the section of the book about rehabilitation is absolutely wonderful.  It took time and a number of organizations and individuals, but the story of the reclamation of these pit bulls is remarkable.  Sixty-six dogs were removed from Vick's property.  Some died before they had the chance to be evaluated.  But, there was a remarkable team put together to evaluate and place each individual dog.  Of the forty-nine dogs evaluated, forty-seven were given a second chance. 

Wait until you read the stories of the people and dogs who worked together to find a second life for these dogs.  Jonny Justice is one of my favorites, a dog who now participates in the Paws for Tales program, listening to children read at the public library.  But there are dogs that are now therapy dogs, dogs that are family pets.  And, there's a summary that provides an individual profile for each dog who wasn't followed in the course of the reclamation story.

Jim Gorant has taken a story of tragedy, and turned it into a remarkable story of people who cared to save Michael Vick's dogs.  The Lost Dogs is, in the end, a triumphant story of people who took on a difficult task, an investigation of a popular football player, and then a reclamation effort to save the dogs the player and his friends tried to destroy.

I understand this is a difficult subject, but The Lost Dogs is a rewarding book to read.   I have one copy of the book to give away.  If you're interested in winning, email me at lholstine@yahoo.com, with the subject line "Win The Lost Dogs."  Include your name and mailing address.  Entrants in the U.S. only, please.  The contest will end at 5 AM tomorrow (Friday) morning, and I'll draw the name by random number generator.  The publisher will send a copy of the book.

*****

"Jim Gorant has worked as a magazine editor and writer for twenty years, and is currently a senior editor at Sports Illustrated. His work has appeared in such magazines as Men’s Health, GQ, and Outside. Also the author of Fanatic: Ten Things All Sports Fans Should Do Before They Die, he lives in New Jersey."

The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption by Jim Gorant.  Gotham Books, ©2010. ISBN 9781592405503 (hardcover), 304p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of the book, so I could participate in Gorant's blog tour.

12 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I'm so glad to hear that those poor dogs have been taken care of. The whole episode was so sad....and this sounds like an uplifting book.

Ingrid King said...

Wonderful review, Lesa. I've been circling this one at the bookstore, trying to even work up the courage to pick it up, and wondering whether I could handle reading it. After reading your review, I think it's a must read for me (but I'll probably skip the italicized parts - that, I'm pretty sure I couldn't handle).

Lesa said...

Elizabeth,

It made me feel so good to see what happened with those dogs. Most of them have moved on so well.

Lesa said...

Skip the italicized parts, Ingrid. And, there aren't that many of them - only at the beginning. But, you'll be so glad you saw the success they had with the dogs.

bermudaonion said...

I just can't imagine the cruelty those dogs had to live with and I'm so glad to see they've found good homes to spend the rest of their lives in.

Beth Hoffman said...

I followed this story with more anger bubbling inside me than I had known for a long, long time. I won't ever say what I believe should happen to Vick and his sick pack of cronies.

Every day I prayed that those poor dogs would be taken care of, loved, and treated with great gentleness.

Thanks for the great review, Lesa. This is a book I'll pick up for certain (but I'll take your suggestion and skip the italicized parts).

Clea Simon said...

I admit, I'm biased - my next (April) mystery, DOGS DON'T LIE, features a rescued pitbull who is framed for murder. But the real stories of these poor dogs is more dramatic than anything I could ever come up with. Thanks for the great review, Lesa, and for drawing attention to an important book!

Lesa said...

Kathy,

That's why I felt it was important to highlight this book, to let people know that the dogs were taken care of successfully.

Lesa said...

You and me, both, Beth, you and me, both. I won't tell you either. Let me just say, I'm against the death penalty, but...

Yes, skip the italicized part, and you'll appreciate the rest of the book.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Clea. As I said, I had a hard time with the beginning of the book, but I think it is an important topic to show those dogs can be rehabilitated, and its humans who have trained them, and given them that reputation.

Kris said...

It sounds like a great book showing how American's can work to right the wrongs of others.

Lesa said...

It is, Kris. And, the number of people who worked together to help these dogs is amazing.